Orange Chicken

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We can talk about authentic Chinese food vs. American Chinese food but I’m in my mid 30s, I was born in the US, and I occasionally crave greasy, deep fried chicken covered in a sweet sauce. I won’t deny it, and I won’t say authentic is better than Americanized. To me, Americanized Chinese is in it’s own category. OBVIOUSLY it isn’t authentic, and I don’t care.

I am the Chinese American woman eating American Chinese food at the Chinese restaurant sitting across from my Caucasian husband eating Authentic Chinese food because this is America and we do what we want!

Some Chinese restaurants don’t do a good job making  Orange Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken and Sesame Chicken taste different from each other. They all come out with the similar gloppy, syrupy sweet sauce to me. I could order Sesame Chicken and they could deliver General Tso’s and I’d eat it without realizing the difference. Also, most take-out Chicken dishes, being covered in sauce too long, become soggy and mushy with the batter separating from the chicken by the time you start eating it.

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Surprisingly the chicken for this recipe doesn’t come out greasy at all, and the batter fries up perfectly golden with all the craggily bits like Popeye’s chicken does. The sauce (with just the right level of sweet/tart) doesn’t make the chicken soggy and clings to all the cracks and crevices nicely. I can heat the leftovers up the next day and it will still retain it’s crunchiness and texture.

You can use white meat (tenderloins or breast) or dark meat (thighs) for this recipe. Dark meat will come out juicier, but I only had tenderloins, and that came out great as well.

Orange Chicken (adapted from Seriouseats)

Ingredients

  • For the Marinade:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 6 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins or chicken thighs, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks
  • For the Dry Coating:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons low-sodium chicken stock
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 4 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 teaspoons corn oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • chopped scallions (optional)
  • For frying:
  • corn oil (enough to cover halfway up one layer of chicken in pan)

Directions

1) Whisk the egg whites until frothy. Blend in the rest of the marinade ingredients. Set aside 1/2 marinade (to combine with dry coating later). Use the other half of marinade to coat the chicken, cover and set aside in fridge.

2) Combine the dry coating ingredients in a bowl. Add the marinade and mix with hands until clumpy. Put coating into gallon sized zip lock bag.

3) In another bowl, combine ingredients for sauce excluding the ginger, garlic and oil. Set aside.

4) In a large skillet, sauté the ginger and garlic in 4 teaspoons oil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the sauce and bring to a boil until thickened. Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. Clean out pan.

5) Put chicken into zip lock bag with dry coating. Shake shake shake. Use your hands and squeeze the bag to press the batter onto the chicken. Squeeze and shake.

6) Coat the large skillet with enough oil to immerse a single layer of chicken halfway up. I do it this way to save from deep frying and wasting quarts of oil. Heat to medium high heat, then place chicken pieces one by one into the pan, not crowding it. You may have to fry it in batches. Fry one side of the chicken for 2-4 minutes, or until golden brown, and repeat on the other side. Remove chicken to a plate, and repeat batches until finished.

7) Pour sauce on top of chicken, sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped scallions if you wish. Serve over rice.

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Directions with photos:

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Whisk the egg whites until frothy.

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Blend in the rest of the marinade ingredients. Set aside 1/2 marinade (to combine with dry coating later). Use the other half of marinade to coat the chicken, cover and set aside in fridge.

Combine the dry coating ingredients in a bowl. Add the marinade and mix with hands until clumpy (sorry no pics, imagine clumpy batter). Put coating into gallon sized zip lock bag.

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In another bowl, combine ingredients for sauce excluding the ginger, garlic and oil. Set aside.

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In a large skillet, sauté the ginger and garlic in 4 teaspoons oil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

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Add the sauce,

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and bring to a boil until thickened. Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. Clean out pan.

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Put chicken into zip lock bag with dry coating. Shake shake shake. Use your hands and squeeze the bag to press the batter onto the chicken. Squeeze and shake.

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Coat the large skillet with enough oil to immerse a single layer of chicken halfway up. I do it this way to save from deep frying and wasting quarts of oil. Heat to medium high heat, then place chicken pieces one by one into the pan, not crowding it. You may have to fry it in batches. Fry one side of the chicken for 2-4 minutes, or until golden brown,

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and repeat on the other side. Remove chicken to a plate, and repeat batches until finished.

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Pour sauce on top of chicken, sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped scallions if you wish. Serve over rice.

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Enjoy!

Tamale Pie

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I don’t know where Tamale Pie comes from, maybe the name represents something that tastes similar to tamales but that’s it. It is a casserole of ground beef, corn, beans, cheese, green peppers and cheese topped with a cornbread batter and baked. Make it and you’re house will smell good.

If you want to cut the fat you can use ground turkey instead of beef. That way you can also skip the step of draining the fat from the meat after it browns.

Be sure to bake until the cornbread is cooked all the way through. Mine took around 50 minutes at 375 degrees, yours could take longer or shorter. Stick a toothpick into the middle to see if it comes out clean, like you do with cake or cupcakes.

Also, excuse the messy presentation in the photo, the hungrier I get the sloppier it looks. Presentation-shmesentation.

Tamale Pie (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 15oz. can of beans, drained (I used kidney beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 1 box cornbread mix, prepared using instructions on box (usually need eggs, milk, butter etc.)
  • 9 x 13 casserole dish, greased

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet using medium high heat, melt 1 Tbsp. butter. Add green pepper and onions, sauté for 5 minutes, set aside in bowl. Using same skillet, brown ground beef and drain fat. Add peppers and onions back into pan. Add corn, beans, tomato paste, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix well and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn heat off and gently fold in cheese.
  3. Make cornbread batter according to instructions on package. Spread meat mixture in greased casserole dish, smoothing the top until level. Pour cornbread on top, smoothing until level. Bake until cornbread is completely done, around 50 minutes. Use toothpick to test for doneness. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet using medium high heat, melt 1 Tbsp. butter.

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Add green pepper and onions, sauté for 5 minutes, set aside in bowl.

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Using same skillet, brown ground beef and drain fat. Add peppers and onions back into pan.

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Add corn, beans, tomato paste, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix well and let simmer for 5 minutes.

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Turn heat off and gently fold in cheese.

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Make cornbread batter according to instructions on package.

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Spread meat mixture in greased casserole dish, smoothing the top until level.

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Pour cornbread on top,

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smoothing until level.

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Bake until cornbread is completely done, around 50 minutes. Use toothpick to test for doneness. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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